By Emily Scott
If you are thinking about pursuing a career in accounting, you may be interested in obtaining a Master of Accounting (MAcc) degree. The MAcc program at Vanderbilt Business prepares students to work in the accounting field by providing them with the resources to sit for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam in just 12 months. Below, Emily O’Dell, Director of Vanderbilt Business MAcc programs, answers some common questions about what students learn in a MAcc program and how it will be beneficial for your future career.
What do you learn in a MAcc program?
MAcc students at Vanderbilt Business choose one of two tracks: Assurance or Valuation. Some examples of classes offered to both tracks at Vanderbilt Business include Financial Reporting, Managerial Economics, Federal Taxation of Business Entities, Corporate Value Management, Audit Institutions, and Financial Modeling.
What are the biggest differences between the Assurance and Valuation tracks from a curriculum perspective?
From a curriculum perspective, the Assurance and Valuation tracks are very similar, and both offer the opportunity for students to participate in leadership development, career management, and CPA exam reviews. However, the tracks aren’t identical. “The biggest difference is that Valuation students take more finance driven courses than Assurance students. However, we offer all of the accounting courses for both tracks that students need to sit for the CPA exam.” O’Dell said.
Are there opportunities for professional development outside of academics?
Classroom knowledge isn’t all that students gain during the MAcc program. Vanderbilt Business offers many opportunities for students to get involved in clubs, build teamwork skills, network with other professionals in the field, and work with mentors that can better prepare them for a career in accounting. At Vanderbilt, MAcc students also take the Hogan Assessment to discover their strengths and weaknesses while in the program, then work with coaches to improve their skills.
“We have a Leadership Development Program (LDP) that works closely with our students to prepare them for their careers. The one-on-one meetings with a team member from LDP helps students identify exactly what they are good at and what they need to work on to prepare them for their internship in the program, ” O’Dell said. “We do mock interviews with our students and provide them with a resume template to give our students the career support they need in a graduate program at Vanderbilt.”
Are students able to intern during the MAcc program?
While not all masters in accounting incorporate an internship component, Vanderbilt MAcc students do have the opportunity to take part in an accounting internship in Mod 3 of the program. The internship allows them to hone their soft skills and apply the knowledge that they have learned in their classes to real life situations at a Big 4 firm. The internship is a stepping stone for MAcc students to land a full-time job in accounting, since they have the opportunity to start networking with professionals in the Big 4 while at their internship. After the internship ends, students take Mod 4 to reflect on their experiences with fellow classmates and work with career coaches to prepare for full-time placement after graduation.
“What the internship showed me most is that I am prepared for the professional world. Even though I was an intern, I felt I was treated as a peer by many in normal interactions, which really put me at ease,” said Jackson Garey (MAcc’20). “I felt that I belonged, refined my technical skills, and built a network during this internship, all of which make me feel more prepared to start my career.” To hear more student reflections on the MAcc internships experience, check out our survey of the class of 2020.